Consultant and filmmaker
Chicago // 49

Running your own business isn’t for everyone, but for some it’s “the best of all worlds,” as longtime Chicago activist Mary Morten describes her work as president of the consulting firm Morten Group. “I love what I do,” says Morten, who established the firm in 2001 after having been Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley’s LGBT liaison and then director of the Office of Violence Prevention for the Chicago Department of Public Health. Morten assists businesses and nonprofit organizations with leadership development, diversity training, succession planning, and other projects, all touching on social issues. “I also have a chance to be an independent filmmaker,” says Morten, who not only makes films and videos for her clients—she did one in 2007 for the Coalition for Education on Sexual Orientation, now the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance—but is making Woke Up Black, a documentary on five black Chicago youths, whom she has been following since 2008. Most often, she notes, “We see 20-second sound bites about black youths, and they are often negative.” Her film, in contrast, will present in-depth portraits of its subjects, ages 16–21, how they live their lives, and how they feel about social and political matters. She expects to finish the film this year and plans to submit it to the Sundance Film Festival.

Network vice president
New York City // 42

Blake Callaway has a deep and abiding relationship with television. “I used to tell my mom that I wanted to be a TV repairman so I wouldn’t miss any shows,” says the senior vice president of brand and strategic marketing at the Syfy channel. Now tasked with bringing audiences to Syfy’s blend of smart and sexy science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal programming, Callaway has been integral in the channel’s pioneering marketing campaigns. Syfy’s marketing, like its content, is as inclusive as possible. In particular, Caprica, the prequel series to the critically acclaimed reboot of Battlestar Galactica, will explore social issues important to gay audiences: “We are reaching out to fans that love a great drama mixed with relevant social commentary, and that includes gay and Hispanic audiences. We have a gay married character with a very familiar last name to anyone who might be a BSG fan. Obviously the laws of Caprica were settled correctly on the marriage issue… Now, if California can get it right.” Needless to say, Callaway loves his job. “I even have a TV in my office.”

Philadelphia // 31

It’s a wonder Brian Sims has time to breathe. He is staff counsel for policy and planning at the Philadelphia Bar Association, a body that guides attorneys, judges, and politicians on controversial legal matters. Sims is also president of the board of directors of EqualityPA, chairman of the board of directors of Gay and Lesbian Lawyers of Philadelphia, and has recently joined the national campaign board of the Victory Fund. “My not-so-subtle agenda since I joined the bar was to make it more gay-friendly,” he says. It’s a lot of work, but Sims insists, “I work with some powerful, influential, and wealthy people who have enormous influence on civil rights. To see them come out of the woodwork on civil rights is tremendous.” Sims—who made a splash in the collegiate sports world in 2000, when, as a defensive tackle and captain of the Bloomsburg University football team, he came out to his team—is also a speaker in high demand, talking to college students about being a gay jock. Thought his advocacy, policy work, and public speaking, Sims is uniquely situated to see positive change in action. “I’m going to see the fruits of my labor, here and now.”

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